Hospital clinicians who prescribe opioids are being encouraged to give all patients a new guide on their appropriate use developed by NPS MedicineWise Choosing Wisely Australia
The two page leaflet Managing pain and opioid medicines has been developed for people prescribed opioids as inpatients, or on discharge, to raise awareness about opioids use for short-term pain, their side effects and the risks of dependence.
The guide emphasises the message that opioids should only be used for the shortest time and at the lowest dose possible.
It includes a version of the ‘5 questions to ask your doctor’ from Choosing Wisely, to ensure that patients know about their cause of their pain, the risks of opioids and the alternatives available to manage pain.
The guide also has a section for a personal pain management plan that can be completed in conjunction with a health professional.
NPS MedicineWise CEO Adj A/Prof Steve Morris says the guide is part of a national effort to help tackle Australia’s growing pharmaceutical ‘opioid crisis’.
“With statistics showing three lives are lost, 150 people are hospitalised and 14 people present to emergency departments every day due to harm caused by pharmaceutical opioids, we need to ensure more information is available to people at the point these medicines are prescribed.
“This is the first time in Australia the Choosing Wisely 5 Questions model has been used to drive conversations about a specific treatment in a format that can be distributed in hospitals, in primary care and can be accessed directly by consumers and carers,” Mr Morris said.
“Ultimately, we hope to see this practical guide provided to everyone in Australia who is prescribed an opioid medicine.”
The new opioids resource has been released to coincide with a new NPS MedicineWise national education program, Opioids, chronic pain and the bigger picture, which aims to equip health professionals and consumers with tools and resources to reduce the harms of opioids, while ensuring adequate pain management and quality of life for people with chronic non-cancer pain.